One of my favorite parts about living in Sacramento is when I want to get out for a weekend adventure I don’t have to travel very far. Within in an hour driving distance of my house there are all kinds of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. Recently I was introduced to El Dorado wine country for their 2016 Passport Weekend. I know when most people think of Northern California wine it conjures up images of Napa or Sonoma, but I was excited to find what other amazing wines existed outside of these regions. My official photographer, I mean husband, and I braved grey skies and rain sprinkles to taste new wines and take in beautiful views, we were not disappointed.
We spent the most amount of our time at C.G. di Arie Vineyard and Winery where we tasted our way through the property. First stop was the patio where we met Elisheva, co-owner of C.G di Arie, and she gave us a brief explanation of the history and types of wines they produce. We were excited to learn they regularly host open house events for wine releases and vineyard tours. I mean, with this view how could we not plan on coming back?
View From the Patio
After taking in the views we headed inside to meet the winemaker Chaim, who also happens to be the husband of Elisheva. We were challenged to put our palates to the test and identify which eight wines made up their soon-to-be released Onstage Act II blend. Always up for a good challenge my husband and I tasted, chatted with the winemaker (we couldn’t pry any hints about the blend makeup out of him), and submitted our best guesses. People who correctly identify the makeup of the blend win a case, so keep your fingers crossed and if you’re lucky we might share.
We really enjoyed out experience at Passport Weekend and can’t wait to come back, on our visit we will definitely plan on staying overnight so we can experience more. Haven’t been yet? Plan your getaway here. Have a favorite winery, restaurant, or hotel we should try next time? Let me know in the comments!
Oh glorious Friday, the best day of the week. The day where we always know exactly how many minutes until five o’ clock. What are you doing this weekend? We’ve been friends long enough now that I am going to assume it will involve a glass, or bottle, of wine. I am heading to Napa this weekend (full disclosure I did final editing of this post from my hotel room in Napa) so I will definitely be consuming some vino, you can find follow all the tasting fun over on my Instagram.
If you want to bring Napa into your house this weekend, why not throw a wine tasting party? I’m not talking a fancy, stuffy wine tasting party where people might judge you for showing up with two buck Chuck. I’m talking about getting together a few of your favorite people, having them bring their favorite wine, and sharing some laughs. You should also add cheese to your list, because a wine tasting party is the perfect opportunity to indulge in too much cheese. My lady friend Kristin who is the artist and brain behind Semi Sweet Press has created a printable wine tasting kit that is perfect for your non-stuffy wine tasting party.
The kit includes tasting mats that coach you through how to evaluate the different facets of the wine. My personal favorite is the Finish description: do the flavors linger after you swallow? (that’s what she said) Yummy, lasting flavors usually mean you are drinking some good shit. Remember the part about only inviting your fun friends? Now you see why I said that. It also includes the judgement cards that you fill out foe each wine you taste.
I was writing that my wine tasted like banana cream pie, it wasn’t my favorite. This kit makes wine tasting fun, and that is all we really want out of a night that involves wine with good friends right? Who would you invite to your wine tasting party? You better say me.
The Semi Sweet Press kit includes tasting mats, score cards, invitations, numbered wine tags, and instructions for use. Find it here. All photos by Madeloni Photography
Last Saturday I was invited to visit Oak Farm Vineyards in Lodi, CA for a sneak peek of their new processing facility and tasting room. It took a lot of arm twisting for me to be talked into a vineyard tour and wine tasting on a beautiful sunny day, but I am committed to bringing you the best blog content so off I went.
Oak Farm Vineyards is family owned and sits on 70 acres of land, 60 of which are allocated to growing grapes. They currently have 10 different varietals of grapes, some of which were planted as recent as three weeks ago. Dan Panella, the Managing Partner, spoke with pride about how the new processing facility was not only focused on the quality of the wine, but also on sustainability. As a result of this commitment Oak Farm Vineyards does not use any harsh chemicals in the processing of their wines. Dan put it best when he said their goal is to “make a pure product that has minimal impact.”
Our next stop was the newly built tasting room. From the first step inside it is obvious that detailed thought and care went into planning the layout and decor. A prominent U-shaped bar in the middle of the room features modern touches like a polished cement counter top and drop light fixture overhead. Large glass doors on either side of the tasting room lead to the courtyard or the great lawn. Both areas feature scattered seating areas, perfect for grabbing a bottle of wine and catching up with your partner or best friend. The seating areas situated throughout the property is one of my favorite features of the new building because they invite you to relax and enjoy a moment – it might even inspire people to put away their phones and have a conversation!
One thing that struck me as I walked around the perimeter of the building was how the view changed with each side. I would move from the expansive great lawn in front to the stately family house that looks like it belongs in the South somewhere, and then rows and rows of grapes growing all set against a cloudless blue sky. It was like visual eye candy, and I couldn’t get enough. All I could imagine was how lovely it would be to have a glass of wine in my hand and watch the sunset over the vines.
The most impressive feature of the tour was the 400 year old oak tree that is situated just to the left of the family house. If you go to Oak Farm Vineyards the tree may look familiar, it also appears on their wine bottle labels.
After we toured the grounds we headed into their barn to taste some wines. I tasted 6 of their wines and for full disclosure I will tell you that I had my fiance, who tastes for a living, help me out with descriptors. He also took all of the pictures featured in this post, so in short he is pretty amazing (why do you think I’m marrying him?). Scroll down to see the full write up on the wines.
Sauvignon Blanc: Aroma was grapefruit and lemon. Taste was high acidity, citric, and “lemon in the front, grapefruit in the back.”
Verdelho: Aroma was banana and vanilla. Taste was buttery, smooth, touch of citrus, and “like banana creme pie.”
Chardonnay: Aroma was toasted coconut and vanilla. Taste was smooth, low acidity, velvety mouth feel, “interesting.”
Tievoli (red blend of Zin and Petite Syrah): Aroma was bing cherry and cedar wood. Taste was plum, soft mouth feel, low acid, slightly sweet finish.
Barbera: Aroma was blackberry and raisin. Taste was ripe black berry, jammy slightly heavy body but no aggressive flavors. This one was our favorite.
Zinfandel: Aroma was vanilla, caramel, sandalwood. Taste was toasty, oak, caramel, soft velvety mouth feel.
Oak Farm Vineyards is anticipating having their new tasting facility open by mid September, but in the mean time I would encourage you to head over for a tasting and a romantic stroll around the oak tree.